October 21st, 2014

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

You know, sometimes you just blaze through several books all at once...

I admit that I read several books at the same time. Usually this means that I get one book that I spend most of my reading time on, and I get one done at a time, but sometimes I'm nearly done with more than one, and in a single day I finish them all.

Yesterday was such a day.

First, I read a graphic novel, I Was the Cat. I was somewhat disappointed with it. It felt flat, in the end.

Then, Revenge of the Spellmans, the third book of this detective series. Talk about dysfunctional families. In these books, there's always a mystery involved...I mean, what would be the point of such a book without it? However, most of the book deals with intrafamily issues, and as it's written in the first person viewpoint of the middle child, each is quite a romp. I find them a fun read, at least so far.

Finally, just before falling asleep last night, I read Osprey Elite #188: Napoleonic Heavy Cavalry & Dragoon Tactics. In general, I like the Osprey series; they make small and specific portions of military history readable, understandable and palatable. In this book for no reason that I can pinpoint, I just found it better than the average for the series. If you have any interest in cavalry, give it a read!

And so on to the next book...
red flowers

Book 183: We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Book 183: We are All Completely Beside Ourselves.
Author: Karen Joy Fowler, 2014.
Genre: Period Fiction/Contemporary. Family Drama. Coming of Age. Activism.
Other Details: ebook. 337 pages.

Rosemary's young, just at college, and she's decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family. So we're not going to tell you too much either: you'll have to find out for yourselves what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other. Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone - vanished from her life. There's something unique about Rosemary's sister, Fern. So now she's telling her story; a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice. It's funny, clever, intimate, honest, analytical and swirling with ideas that will come back to bite you. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

This novel was my favourite of the 2014 Man Booker short-list. It is well-written, thought-provoking, funny in places and so sad in others. I won't say anything about the plot because it is a novel that as the synopsis suggests is best read cold without spoilers. The story is set from the mid-70s to the mid-90s when Rosemary's is in college though as it is told in retrospect by Rosemary we do learn of how things turn out into the 21st century. There is no ambiguity in the tale, just good story-telling and memorable characters.

It was also the favourite of our Man Booker Shadowing Group by a wide margin. However, we all agreed that it felt too popular and accessible to win the Man Booker and this proved true. Still, award or not it was a great novel exploring important themes.

Book #48: City of Thieves by Cyrus Moore

Number of pages: 439

I was keen for a while to read a thriller set in the world of business, so took an interest in this title.

The book revolves around Niccolo Lamparelli, who joins a banking firm within London's Square Mile. As you might imagine, the book revolves heavily around characters being corrupt, and the bank's chief executive is shown to be a very shady and unpleasant character.

The book starts off with Niccolo impressing his bosses, but you can tell that behind the scenes some very dodgy characters are monitoring him, and after his climb up the firm's hierarchy, things start going wrong.

The pivotal moment comes around half way through the story, with a murder taking place, and this heavily influences the rest of the plot.

Overall, I thought this was a bit predictable but overall very well told, although a lot of the first half of the book seemed to be sleazy male characters making perverted comments about female colleagues and obsessing with casual sex.

Also, while I was a little annoyed the characters seemed to take far too long to prove the killer in a murder, where it was obvious to the reader who was guilty, there were much more good bits than bad bits. Niccolo is a character that you will mostly side with (although he proves to be slightly frustrating at times), and I loved the fact that he and his best friend Jack were given a backstory set around them meeting a Japanese sensei when they were children. The significance is explained later on, too.

There were some chillingly realistic moments too, particularly a scene where hundreds of bank employees get suddenly told their are redundant and escorted out of their workplace. Apparently that isn't too far from the truth at all.

The other good thing about the book was that the end, which was a little different to what I'd expected, did not disappoint.

Next book: Inferno by Dan Brown
early 20th century

Book 184: This Old Thing by Dawn O'Porter

Book 184: This Old Thing: Fall in Love with Vintage Clothes .
Author: Dawn O'Porter, 2014.
Genre: Fashion. TV Tie-in. Non-Fiction.
Other Details: Hardback. 144 pages.

Give your wardrobe a thoroughly modern vintage makeover with Dawn O'Porter and her team of style experts! Tying-in to her new prime-time six-part Channel 4 show of the same name, journalist Dawn O'Porter is a woman on a mission: to ignite Britain's passion for vintage fashion! We're a nation obsessed with cheap, disposable clothing - but Dawn and her team of vintage style experts are here to show you why hunting for one-of-a-kind fashion gems is more exciting, better value for money, and a lot more fun. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

I caught an episode of Dawn's TV show and then sought out this book via the library. While I am not sure vintage clothes are for me (let's face it I'm old enough to have lived through some of those decades) this was a terrific guide to the subject. Vintage clothing is defined as that over 30 years old going back to the 1920s; items before that is classified as antique. She gives an overview of the decades from the 1920s through the early 1980s. She also provides a history of various iconic trends such as the LBD, flares, the Maxi and Mini, as well as a guide to having a clear-out of your existing wardrobe.

Dawn obviously has a lot of fun writing this guide and that was infectious. It is beautifully illustrated with many colour photographs from the various decades as well as Dawn modelling some of her finds. I admit to envy at some of these. At the end of the book is a guide to shopping for vintage clothing in the UK both in speciality shops and on-line and a section on DIY tailoring.

I'd recommend this to anyone interested in getting into vintage clothing. Despite my feeling that vintage might not be for me, within a few days of reading this book I found the confidence to purchase via Etsy a vintage 1970s maxi. and also gave my wardrobe a good clear-out.

Dawn O'Porter's website - packed with goodies.